Mar 29 - Apr 04, 2003





MUHAMMAD SALEEM UMER has assumed the office of the Chief Executive, Institute of Bankers Pakistan (IBP) on October 01, 2003. Umer is a distinguished banker, a seasoned trainer and an able administrator. Starting his banking career with United Bank Limited (UBL), he has the rich experience of over 30 years. In 1984, his services were requisitioned by the then Pakistan Banking Council. From 1984 to 1998 he has worked with Economic Development Institute (EDI) of the World Bank as Training Consultant and Activity Director. During this period, he also remained closely associated with the monumental work of the preparation of bilingual 'Glossary of Banking and Finance' published by State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and IBP. From January 2001 to September 30, 2003 he remained associated with National Institute of Banking and Finance (NIBAF), a subsidiary of SBP, as Managing Director, Director General and Training Consultant. Aside from full-time responsibilities, he has served on different high-level committees, working groups and task forces in Pakistan and abroad. He has also represented the Government of Pakistan in the Banking Committee of ECO.

PAGE: How do you explain the paradigm shift in commercial banking sector?

MUHAMMAD SALEEM UMER: When I started my banking career more than 30 years ago, the key responsibility of a bankers used to be deposit mobilization as the demand for funds used to be much higher than supply. Now the commercial banks have over-following deposits but quality borrowers are few. The market conditions have changed from the sellers market to borrowers market. To survive in the changed market, the banks need people with entirely different mind-set, people who are innovative and come up with financial products to cater to the changing needs of customers. Not only that the banks have to recruit people having diversified skills but also have to train the employees to attain new skills and offer regular refresher courses.

PAGE: How the paradigm shift is changing the curriculum being followed by the Institute of Bankers?



UMER: This can be best described by 'Our Vision' and 'Our Mission'. Our Vision is 'To be the premier financial sector knowledge institute of international standard and repute' and Our Mission is 'To train and develop a sound human resource base for the financial sector and to work for continuous learning, adaptation and application of knowledge'. Initially, the IBP used to conduct Banking Diploma Courses but now the institute conducts courses for the entire financial sector. The format remains more or less the same but the number of elective courses available has been increased to cater to the needs of the sector. Not only that the IBP has developed linkages and further expanding the linkages with the local universities to change the curriculum being followed for MBA Finance and Banking.

PAGE: What is being done to achieve the status of institute of international standard and repute?

UMER: The IBP is currently working with BVQI, French rating agency, to attain the ISO certification. The gap analysis has been conducted and measures are being taken to fill the gaps before the final audit. It is long drawn process but the IBP wants to accomplish this difficult task before the year 2004 ends. A lot of hard work, change in mind-set and transformation is required but the IBP is determined to achieve the status. The efforts have already started yielding results. The IBP has been selected, through competitive bidding, by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to undertake a training of trainer programme. Faculty has been selected to conduct the programme. Curriculum is being developed and training material has been circulated through Pakistan Banks Association (PBA) for soliciting the comments to further improve it. The first programme has been scheduled in Karachi on April 12 and Second programme will be held in Islamabad on April 19, 2004.

PAGE: One of the areas needing specific and urgent attention is developing skills to enhance lending the SMEs. What is being done by the IBP to address this issue?

UMER: Historically, the financial institutions in Pakistan have been dealing with corporates and following collateral based lending. Lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is entirely a different ball game, requiring the different skills and different mind-set. The mind-set is not only an issue of lenders but that of borrowers also. A better understanding has to be developed between the lenders and borrowers. The IBP is also working in this area. Very shortly some discussion programmes will be held in collaboration with the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (SMEDA) to address the issue.

PAGE: What are your comments about 'dying commercial banks and emerging financial super markets'?

UMER: This concept is not new but being discussed since seventies. As I have said earlier, commercial banks were operating in sellers market in the past. With the fast changing working environment they are also changing. They wish to become financial super markets to cater their customers better. They want to build upon their relationship with existing business partners as well as to serve future customers in a better manner.